By John Miceli
Featured NHL Columnist/ Fantasy Football Expert
1. Adrian Peterson- This guy was 9 yards away from breaking the record for most rushing yards in a season in NFL history last year. Need I say more?
2. Arian Foster- If AP wasn’t alive this guy would have had the most hype around him last year. This guy is the definition of consistency; Arian had either 100 yards or a touchdown in every game except 2 this past season. Also the Texans zone run offense is great for a guy like foster, who’s an excellent outside the tackle runner. By the way, how do you think everyone in the NFL feels that this guy wasn’t drafted...?
3. Trent Richardson- People probably didn’t expect Trent Richardson to be this high. But look, first, the Browns brought in an offensive guru in Rob Chudzinski, and Norv Turner. The other reason I like him is because he is heavily relied on, I just can’t see the Browns keeping the ball away from Trent Richardson, just to have Weeden throw the ball. Also this guy is great at punching the ball into the end zone, and if he's heavily relied on, it should bring a lot of yards as well.
4. Alfred Morris- Well this guy came out of nowhere huh? The guy out of FAU is now the 4th ranked running back for fantasy football this season? Yes he is! The scheme fit is great; the pistol spread clearly fits Alfred Morris running abilities. Alfred Morris went above 90 yards in 9 games last season as a rookie, if he gets more of those red-zone carries with the Redskins not wanting to run RG3 as much, he could make for a great fantasy play this year.
5. CJ Spiller- As CJ Spiller picks more and more carries away from Fred Jackson, his fantasy numbers will increase. Hopefully the Bills will take that running back by committee label off, this season and give CJ a chance to show what he can do, like he did when he played great last season. Every game that CJ Spiller got over 15 carries last season, he wound up with more than 100 total yards (Rushing and Receiving).
6. Marshawn Lynch- BEASTMODE is in full effect. This guy is a tank running at you, and it’s very hard to stop this guy when he picks up speed. In half of the games last season, he had over 20 carries. The more carries, the more value most of the time, because it increases their yardage. Also this guy is the guy they get the ball to on the goaline, so he can contribute a lot of touchdowns as well.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew- If there’s any guy that I could see ending way lower on this list by seasons end, its MJD. First off he’s going to be coming off a season with injury. Second, I just can’t see the defense not stacking the box against this guy. Let’s see, give MJD room to run, or stack the box and force Blaine Gabbert to pass? Tell me which one you would do if you were a defensive coordinator.
8. Doug Martin- This guy is solid, I don’t think he will have another amazing year, but I think he will be a very solid play. Also, now that LeGarrette Blount is gone, he will also be the ballcarier on the goal line, so now he will have almost all of the goal line carries as well.
9. Lesean McCoy- I love McCoy, I think he's going to fit very well in Chip Kelly's new offense, this guy is an offensive guru, and Chip Kelly will utilize Leseans strengths very well. I’ve always said this about McCoy, I think skill wise, and he’s the most irreplaceable running back in the NFL. By that I mean that his skills are unmatched, just his footwork and his ability to change directions, I think are by far the best in the NFL. McCoy will shine this year.
10. Ray Rice- Don’t get me wrong, Ray Rice is a great Running back. I just don’t you pay a guy over 100 million dollars to turn around and hand the ball off. I think little Rays problem is going to be that he won’t get enough carries to shine. Also, note that Bernard Pierce was stealing some of Rays carries towards the end of last season.
11. Jamaal Charles- I like Jamaal Charles, the only thing I don’t like is Andy Reid. Right after Lesean McCoy has a monster year, what does he do? Puts a larger load of work on Michael Vick, and goes away from running the ball. I just don’t get it. Andy Reid’s decision making just puzzles me.
12. Stevan Ridley- Despite him probably losing his goal line touches with the arrival of Leggarette Blount, I think he’s a solid play. I love seeing the Patriots go no huddle, because it makes for more offensive snaps, and that means more rushes for Ridley, because there’s no change of personnel. This guy is highly effective, and he will continue to grow, as he gains more experience in the NFL.
13. Steven Jackson- The key factor in SJAX's success is summed up into one word: Attention. First, the attention the team will give him, and by that I mean the amount of times he will touch the football game in and game out. Second, the attention the defense will give him, I think this is where he will succeed. Since the Falcons have a great passing offense it will draw a lot of attention away from SJAX, so when he does get the handoff, his runs will go for more yards. Also remember he’s a very good pass catcher as well.
14. Frank Gore- Gore was also very good last season. I think Gore actually took a bit of hit when Kaepernick took over. You see the offense was totally built around gore with Alex Smith at Quarterback, now the offense relies more on Kaepernick, and Kaepernicks running abilities. Also in a spread option, usually a quicker back is better, so I expect to see more carries for Lamichael James and Kendall Hunter.
15. David Wilson- Anyone looking for a breakout star? This is your guy. He played fantastic last year against New Orleans, and had fairly good games against Atlanta and Philadelphia, and that was with limited carries. This guy has a ton of speed, and could be an every down back next season, and a good pass catching option out of the backfield. The only thing that could hold him back is Andre Brown, and Andre will also probably steal some of Wilsons TD's. Other than that, I love David Wilson this season.
16. Matt Forte- Look, I have always really liked Matt Forte, but I think the other Running back in Chicago, Michael Bush, is really becoming a problem to me. A touchdown is equal to 60 Rushing yards, obviously, and all Michael Bush does is sit on the sideline, and wait for Chicago to get in the red zone, and steal Fortes touchdown. What doesn’t make sense to me either, is Forte is a pretty big back, I just don’t see the need for a big back to come in off the bench and punch it in when he’s completely capable of doing it. Like I said, I love Forte, but unless they give him some Redzone carries, and limit Michael Bush, he’s no longer a top running back.
17. Chris Johnson-CJ2K is no longer near his 2000 yard rushing years. I think the word that fits Chris Johnson best is inconsistency. As defenses are becoming faster and faster it is becoming harder and harder for Chris Johnson. Chris Johnson has outstanding speed, and I would actually really love to see some read option out of Tennessee, because Jake Locker has running ability. If they were to do this, I'd really love Chris Johnson, but in a traditional offense, Chris Johnson is just average, and inconsistent.
18. Demarco Murray-Demarco isn’t a great runner either, but his catching out of the backfield makes up for it. In Dallas' offense they throw the ball a ton, so they need a good pass catcher out of the backfield and Murray is their guy. I think he’s a solid later fantasy addition.
19. Darren Sproles- Sproles should just be labeled as a receiver; this guy never runs the ball. Despite that, in this pass-heavy New Orleans Saints offense, Sproles plays a big role catching out of the backfield. With the return of Sean Payton, and the loss of Chris Ivory, expect Sproles impact and fantasy value to increase.
20. Darren McFadden- Skills wise, McFadden is up there. He is just so injury prone, as he missed 4 games again last season. If we can finally get a full season out of this guy, he will be very interesting to watch, and with no proven passing attack in Oakland, this guy is someone you should pay close attention to.
21. Reggie Bush- I like Bush, and he’s actually really low on this list, I just don’t like the fit, I feel like they throw the ball too much for him to be a factor in the running game. Add in the possibility of Mikel Leshoure being the Redzone/Goaline back, just not enough stuff he will do to make him a viable high fantasy RB option.
22. Eddie Lacy- Green Bay has a great passing attack, but I think with the addition of Lacy, they will have a good ground game this season too. It seems like in the past they’ve always tried to get their running backs carries, but they just never produced. With the addition of Lacy I think they will show more commitment to the running game and hand the ball of to Lacy a decent amount of times this season.
23. Benjarvus Green Ellis- I like the Law Firm. I think he will retain his job this, despite the addition of Giovanni Bernard. Don’t get me wrong, he stunk at the beginning of the year, but towards the end of the year his production started to pick up. BJGE has a really good amount of power, add in the fact that he is great at punching the ball into the end zone, and hardly ever fumbles; you got yourself a quality back there.
24. Montee Ball- You see, I would like Ball a lot more if he wasn’t in an offense with Peyton Manning, Demaryious Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker. I just don’t see why the Broncos would run the football very often. The one thing the running game does have going for it though, is John Fox. John Fox loves to run the ball, and if they can establish some sort of running game, Ball could be decent. Also remember they have last year’s draft pick Ronnie Hillman as well, and he might steal some carries.
25. Vick Ballard- I think Luck threw a bit too much last season. I think Ballard will take on a bigger role this year, and the occasional carries for others such as Donald Brown or Mewelde Moore will be non-existent. My only worry with him is that he only had 5 TDs last season, and that is in part because Luck has good Running ability, especially in the Red Zone. If you’re looking for a guy that can get you a good amount of yards, and looking for a late round starter here he is.
26. Rashard Mendenhall- If you’re looking for a guy to have a comeback year, here he is. Mendenhall was a very solid Running back till last season, where he got ended and then was in a running back by committee. I think Mendenhall can carve out a nice niche at Running back, as long as he stays number one over Ryan Williams.
27. Leveon Bell- I really like Bell. I think he has a great opportunity in Pittsburgh to be the starting running back, and return the Steelers to their prototypical "big back." Bell has impressed so far in training camp, and if he can take that starting job he’s a very solid pick. He was heavily relied on at Michigan State, and was effective even with the defense stacking the box, now in Pittsburgh they will have to respect the pass as well. Also remember, Todd Haley loves to run the football.
28. Ryan Matthews- Can you say disappointment? By far the biggest fantasy bust of 2012. He didn’t rack up yardage, and he didn’t score touchdowns. The only hope for Matthews is if he returns to 2 years ago Ryan Matthews. We will see how game planning changes with this new regime in San Diego. I actually have a feeling we will see glimpses of the good Ryan Matthews next season. Looks like he’s one of those wait and see type of guys.
29. Lamar Miller- As long as he hangs on to the job, he should be a solid play. I think his speed is what will be the key to his success, with the Dolphins moving to more of a spread-option offense, his speed should add an interesting dynamic. If he can keep his job as the number one, and not splitting carries, he could become a star.
30. Chris Ivory- I like Chris Ivory. But I don’t think he will be successful. If he went to a half decent offense, he would be a solid RB. But he’s on the worst offense in the NFL, and if Ivory starts to have success, the defense will just stack the box, and force Sanchez to throw, it’s just that simple.
31-Isaiah Pead- Pead has more skills and is a better running back then some of the guys ahead of him, but I think he will be in a time share with Daryl Richardson this year. If Richardson was stealing carries from Steven Jackson, I’m sure he will be stealing a lot more from Pead. I really actually like both running backs, this is one of those times where you wish you could draft a team running back, rather than an individual one.
32. Jonathan Stewart- Here’s another guy in a time share. The best time share in football, with Jonathon Stewart and Deangelo Williams. I think both these guys would be really good running backs, I just wish they were on different teams, teams where one could be the feature back. These two just switch so often, it’s hard for either to have any fantasy value.
Best of the Backups-
33. Michael Bush
34. Daryl Richardson
35. Andre Brown
36. Ahmad Bradshaw (Free Agent)
37. Jonathan Franklin
38. Giovani Bernard
39. Mikel Leshoure
40. Danny Woodhead
41. Shane Vereen
42. Daniel Thomas
43. Deangelo Williams
44. Ryan Williams
45. Mark Ingram
46. Jacquizz Rodgers
47. Robert Turbin
48. Ronnie Hillman
49. Ben Tate
50. Daniel Thomas
John Miceli is the NHL Featured Columnist/ Fantasy Football Expert for World of Sports Talk. You can follow him on twitter @lets_go_tebow
It's been almost 20 years since the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft was traded, when the Orlando Magic moved Chris Webber, but it's possible that streak could end this year.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who scored the top pick at Tuesday night's draft lottery, will be willing to listen to trade offers for it.
Ten years after winning the lottery that landed them LeBron James, the Cavaliers picked up another opportunity to help speed up the rebuilding process since his departure to Miami in 2010.
James' exit shook a franchise that had become a perennial contender with the Ohio native, but the Cavs aren't thinking about that now.
"You want to look at all your options and make the best decision for your team," Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. "This is a valuable asset that we can add to the group, whether it's in trade or keep it and add a player."
The Cavs are in a favorable position to make a deal. The team has more than $20 million in salary cap space, the No. 1 pick plus the No. 19, No. 31 and No. 33 picks, and a roster with young prospects that could be used in a deal.
The potential No. 1 pick this year, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, is no James. But he could be a nice addition for the Cavs once he's recovered from a torn ACL - if they keep the pick. They also have Nos. 19, 31 and 33 for new coach Mike Brown, who they rehired after firing Byron Scott following a 24-58 season.
The only other possible player for the Cavs to take #1 overall would be Kansas Guard Ben McLemore. No other player in this draft class is worthy of a #1 pick. Now, personally I do believe they will look at trading this pick a little more than people expect. Teams like Phoenix, Washington, and Charlotte will be looking to move up. Phoenix will be very active in this because they currently have the most to offer from their roster to land the #1 pick.
Here is the 2013 NBA Draft Order
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Orlando Magic
3. Washington Wizards
4. Charlotte Bobcats
5. Phoenix Suns
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Minnesota Timber wolves
10. Portland Trailblazers
11. Philadelphia Sixers
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors)
13. Dallas Mavericks
14. Utah Jazz
Dedrick is the Founder of World of Sports Talk. You can follow him on Twitter @DedrickHendrix
Eastern Conference Finals × Featured × Indiana Pacers × Miami Heat × NBA × NBA Playoffs × Taylor Hennrick
By Taylor Hennrick
Featured NBA Columnist
(1) Miami Heat vs. (3) Indiana Pacers
Regular Season Record: 66-16
Playoff Record: 8-1
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are set to square off in what will undeniably be one of the more intriguing bouts of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
LeBron James and the entire cast of Miami studs have put together an outstanding playoff run thus far. Their record entering the Eastern Conference Finals, 8-1, is the best of any team remaining in either conference. This probably comes as no surprise to those who have followed Miami’s success considering this team has lost only a hand-full of games in their last 50 outings going back to the regular season.
The two series they have already finished were different in some ways but alike in others.
In the first round they easily defeated the miniscule Milwaukee Bucks in a perfect 4-0 series. The Bucks are young, but they do play hard and have the capacity to put many points on the board. The key to beating them is to play blanketing defense on their main offensive weapons, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. In the 4 games these two teams played, Ellis averaged 14.3 points per game which is 4.9 points below his regular season average of 19.2 and Jennings was held to 13.3 points per game, 4.2 points below his regular season average of 17.5.
These figures speak to the tenacity with which the Miami Heat attack opposing offenses. They are tall, long, and athletic at all five positions on the court. Their swarming defense leads to lightning quick, fast-break opportunities that result in gaping point margins. The Milwaukee Bucks amounted to little more than a pebble getting crushed underneath a tour bus’ tire.
The Chicago Bulls presented separate difficulties for the Heat. The way in which they were similar to the Bucks is that they never stood a chance. In every other way, these two teams were opposites. This team did not offer the same offensive weapons but rather relied mainly on its own defense to incapacitate the opponent and leave them with a chance in the 4th quarter to get hot and somehow come away with the victories. Clearly that did not prove fruitful against a team with endless weapons like the Heat.
The problem arose early in Game 2 when Dwyane Wade was evidently struggling with some sort of injury. How is this an issue for the Bulls at that time you may ask? Well, even with a crippled Wade, the Heat were scoring at will and extending the lead as if they were playing a lottery team. It was then I knew that there was no chance for the Bulls to even the series again. Wade ended up coming through in the clutch and the Heat rolled to 4 straight wins.
In preparing for the Pacers they will find another set of unique difficulties. Indiana is long, gets excellent play from its frontcourt, has players come off the bench who can score, and possesses the closest thing to a “challenge” for LeBron James in Paul George.
The Heat will have to be on top of their game to come away with a victory on Wednesday night.
Regular Season Record: 49-32
Playoff Record: 8-4
The new and improved Indiana Pacers look primed to make a serious run at advancing to the NBA Finals. They fought through some resistance in the first round and showed why they are the second-best team in the East in the second.
In the first round the Pacers met the Atlanta Hawks, a team that never ceases to amaze with its out of this world play one minute and utterly inept play the next. Indiana should have won this series in either 4 or 5 games, but instead the series wore on to 6 and left me wondering slightly if this team was everything I thought it was.
I never found the Hawks to be much of a playoff contender because they lacked consistency from their headline players. Al Horford is an absolute beast on the block but sometimes disappears for long stretches in games that truly matter; Josh Smith plays like a franchise player at times but does not give maximum effort, or show headiness, on all of his possessions; point guard Jeff Teague is still growing into his game and lacks the killer instinct needed when a game is on the line.
For these reasons I was concerned about the Indiana Pacers and hoped for better outcomes in the second round.
The New York Knicks were sure to be a tough matchup for anyone who stood between them and an NBA Championship title. This team was big, boasted a high octane offense, and featured one of the top 10 players in the league, Carmelo Anthony. What I didn’t expect to see was a team that simply could not handle the pressure placed on them by the Pacers’ defense.
Indiana came out swinging in this series and left no doubt as to who was the better team. Roy Hibbert completely neutralized any threat posed by Tyson Chandler, taking away one of New York’s better options. J.R. Smith was also controlled to the point where he was forced to hoist shots far from the basket instead of trying to penetrate for easier attempts.
This series revealed how well the Indiana Pacers play together as a unit.
Starting with the point guard position, George Hill led this team, held the tempo, and scored some very meaningful points at key junctures. When he went down and had to miss time because of a concussion, D.J. Augustin stepped right in and picked up where Hill left off.
Arguably the biggest breakout player of the series, Lance Stephenson, showed all of us fans why he was so highly coveted by the Pacers organization years ago when they used a second-round pick to draft him. He showed shades of what could have been a younger Dwyane Wade when he went for 25 points and 10 rebounds in the Game 6 victory over the Knicks.
Paul George has taken over as the captain and leader of this team and has also taken on most of the scoring responsibility left behind by Danny Granger. He took what I like to call “The Step” this year, meaning he moved from being an average or pretty good player to being recognized as a player who is well on his way to stardom in this league. He is averaging 19.1 points per game, 1.7 points above his 2013 regular season average and 6.2 points more than his career average of 12.9 points per game.
Then we must talk about the best low-post dynamic in the Eastern Conference, David West and Roy Hibbert. West had a rock-solid year earning every cent of his contract with the Pacers. Hibbert had his fair share of struggles but has recently pulled it together, reminding everyone why he is one of the top 5 centers in the NBA. No play better personifies what he brings on the court than his incredibly clean block of a Carmelo Anthony dunk attempt late in Game 6.
Whether these five and the other role players who come off the bench for the Pacers are enough to take down the defending champions remains to be seen. They have certainly come a long ways in the past 2 seasons and look as though they will be a mainstay atop the Eastern Conference standings. Provided they play up to their highest potential, I believe they will attain at least one or two victories in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Miami Heat will defeat the Indiana Pacers in 6 games, advancing on to the NBA Finals for a 3rd straight year.
This concludes my latest column here at WorldofSportsTalk.com. If you enjoyed this article and wish to talk more NBA, please follow me on Twitter: @TeylorGang21
|Western Conference Championship|
The San Antonio Spurs are the favorites to win this series, and they should be. They are the No. 2 seed with 4 championships since 1999. Spurs have multiple Hall of Famers on the team including head coach Greg Popovich. Tony Parker is starting to get healthy, Manu Ginobli is still on the roster, and 2x NBA Championship MVP Tim Duncan is leading the team.
So what's not to like?
The Memphis Grizzlies are extremely resilient. These No. 5 seed Grizzlies don't go down without a fight. The Grizzlies have lost game 1 in every series so far, but have gone on to win every series. In 2011 the Spurs were the No. 1 seed and the Grizzlies a No. 8 seed. The Grizzlies defeated the spurs in 6 games.
These two teams split their regular season series two games a piece with two of their games going to overtime. Grizzlies had the No. 1 ranked defense in the NBA for a reason, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. However the Spurs have scorers and play makers with championship experience.
For the video breakdown see below.
Prediction: Spurs win series 4-2
Featured NHL Columnist/ Fantasy Football Expert
Why: Weapons, this guy is now has Demaryious Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker to through too. They could literally line up and throw the ball every down this season. In all seriousness, why run the ball? Lets see, throw the ball with one of the greatest QBs of all time, and three great Wide Receivers, or use one of those backs in that crowded backfield to run the ball. You be the head coach, tell me what you would do. To sum it up, the Broncos game plan and Peyton's new weapons around move his stock up, and he could end up with Brady, Brees and Rodgers this season, if it goes as planned.
Why- Too be honest this guy was not very good last season, as far as fantasy goes. This year I expect him to improve for two reasons. One is experience, he will finally get to shake off those rookie jitters, and handle more of the offense this season. My second reasons name is Mike Wallace. Finally Tannehill will have a number one wide receiver to throw to! This guy will no longer be throwing the ball to guys that Jeff Ireland picked up on the Miami streets to come play Wide Receiver for the Dolphins. Mike Wallace is very good and is developing as a do-it-all receiver, and this should help Tannehill big time.
Robert Griffin III
Why: Injury, obviously if this guy never tore his ACL in the playoffs last season, he would be no where near this list. But, you have to proceed with caution with RG3 because you do not know for sure if he will back week one or not. ACL tears are so unpredictable, compare Adrian Peterson's and Derrick Rose's recoveries for example. Dont get me wrong, RG3 is fantastic, and him being on this list has nothing to do with how good of a player he is. Just keep an eye out for that injury.
Why: For as bad of a Quarterback as he was, he was actually a decent fantasy Quarterback. Unfortunately for us fantasy players, Fitz was cut and will now be serving as the backup to Jake Locker. Don't be surprised if Fitz gets a few starts this season, as Locker is very injury prone.
Why- This year it seems like CJ Spiller will get his chance to shine the whole season as a lone back. It seems as though Fred Jackson will now become a non-factor. Spiller was very good when Jackson was out last season, and I think he will be a very solid fantasy back next season
Why- This guy was actually pretty good as a starter in Denver. He was successful with both Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow. But now he is rewarded with one of the following two, accepting the role of 3rd string, or getting cut. The Broncos are choosing to go young with Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball in the backfield, and it looks as though the Broncos will keep either Knowshon Moreno or Mcgahee, and the one not cut will assume the 3rd string role.
Why: I think Randall Cobb becomes a top 10 Wide Receiver this season. Cobb becomes one of Rodgers top options along with Jordy Nelson now with Greg Jennings in Minnesota. I think Cobb steps up as a clear number one this season for Rodgers, and you know Rodgers willl once again be throwing the ball a ton this year. This combo should be great this season. Take Cobb as a top Wide Receiver this year.
Why: Heres another guy who will get his shot to be the number one receiver this season. Antonio Brown is also being thrown to by a quality QB in Ben Roethlisberger and with the passing game more focused on getting brown the ball this season, there is no way his numbers don't go up.
Why: He now becomes the third Wide Receiver, and it just makes me question how many targets he will receive this season. I think Decker is a great player, don't me wrong, but before I will consider him a top 20 Wide Receiver, I have to see how many times Peyton Manning is gonna target him this season.
Why: I am in no way saying Dez Bryant will be bad, but if you look at it, Dez Bryant was one of the best fantasy Wide Receivers this past season. I just dont feel like that will last. I think that the Cowboys will get Miles Austin and the running game more involved this season, which I think will in turn lower Bryant's production a bit. Expect Dez to be good, but not amazing again this season.
Featured × John Miceli × Key Players × NHL × NHL Playoffs
By John Miceli
Featured NHL Columnist/ Fantasy Football Expert
New York Rangers-
This guys greatest strength, comes from something he doesnt have much control over, his size. The thing is, his size allows him to have a far reach to be able to block alot of pucks when they are coming his way and it allows him to have very good puck control. Lets not forget, this guy also does hit an 108 MPH slapshot. If you can get Chara the puck and let him fire slap shots at Lundqvist, the Bruins will have a good chance at winning this series.
New York Rangers-
Without this guy, the Rangers would be no where. This guy is fantastic, and his defense allows alot of shots to come his way, but he still stops the puck. The Rangers offense and defese just really aren't that good, thats why I think without Henrik this team would be awful. He's been putting up amazing performances game in and game out, and he already led the Rangers to a first round victory over the Capitals.
Call me crazy but.. Tomas Vokoun
Okay, Tomas Vokoun is far from the best player on this team, but as far as most valueable goes, I think he's their most. Let's see, Marc-Andre Fleury plays and lets up 6 goals, Vokoun replaces him, and shuts the Islanders out. Look, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and all the rest of their offensive players are very good, but thats exactly why there not the most valueable, because the guy playing on the next line behind them can have a great game too, if one of them was to not play, or not play well. The way this team will win is from their goaltending, we already know what their offense can do, but if Vokoun doesnt play well, this team wont be a solid Stanley Cup contender.
This guy takes the Senators from being a decent playoff team, to a really dangerous playoff team. He's not a fantastic defensemen as far as defensive play goes, but he is by far the best offensive defense men in the NHL. Karlsson has an amazing slapshot, is very good at running the point and doing everything a forward can do, except from the top of the zone, by the blue line. If Ottawa is on a power play, and Karlsson is on the ice, keep your eyes on him, he will probably make something happen. This guy is fantastic game in and game out.
Los Angeles Kings-
Jonathan Quick just puzzles me. I really don't understand how someone can be so bad in the regular season, and then become fantastic in the playoffs. I guess maybe its just "because its the cup." Well however weird it is, this guy is amazing come playoff time, and expect him to continue to have solid goal tending, and make the offense not have to score extraordinary amounts for the Kings to win games.
San Jose Sharks-
Marleau needs to be a leader on and off the ice. As a veteran on the team, he needs to be the one there to encourage them when they're in a close game, or when they are coming off a loss. Also this guy needs to play great on the ice, he needs to be leading the team, and play even better now with Raffi Torres out for the rest of this series.
Toews has to play fantastic defense like he has all year. He has to be there to slow down the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Toews is a great defensive forward, and he is a great shot blocker, if he can play great defense and have solid offensive contributions he can lead this Blackhawks team to a second round victory.
Detroit Red Wings-
Yes Datsyuk and Zetterberg are better players, but Jimmy Howard is the most valuable because he will have to step up the most if the Red Wings want to have a chance in this series. The Blackhawks have a very good offense, and Howard has to slow their offense down. If he can hold their offense to somewhat low scoring games, this could actually be a series.
John Miceli is the Featured NHL Columnist/ Fantasy Football Expert for World of Sports Talk. You can follow him on Twitter @lets_go_tebow
|Are the Spurs too old to win a championship?|
The San Antonio Spurs may have the oldest starting lineup in the NBA, but they're heading to the third round of the NBA playoffs, again.
The Spurs are well known for winning 4 championships however they haven't won a championship since the 2006-07 season. That was the last time the Spurs won in the conference championship round and advanced to the NBA Finals. Since then, it's been full of disappointing playoff exits.
So, are the Spurs too old? Some NBA fans perspective.
@b_donnell45 heat could potentially sweep the spurs lol they too old
— Ol' Dirty Byrd(@TheRealTbyrd) May 17, 2013
Spurs are entirely too old to keep up with the Heat. They gon get that work.
— Danielle (@Tweeet_No_Evil) May 17, 2013
Many NBA fans seem to have doubt whether or not these aged Spurs can keep up with the defending champions. The Miami Heat have looked invincible so far in the postseason only losing one game.
Other NBA fans don't think the Spurs are too old..
My spurs goin to the championship I tried to tell yall!The Spurs next opponent is against the No. 1 defensive team, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies dominated the Thunder in 5 games in the second round. The Grizzlies are the lowest seed remaining in the playoffs, a 5 seed. Now the Spurs get a chance to return to the NBA finals, or will old age catch up, again?
— HADi (@HeIsHooligan) May 17, 2013
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Chicago Bulls × Featured × Memphis Grizzlies × Miami Heat × NBA × NBA Playoffs × Oklahoma City Thunder × Taylor Hennrick
By Taylor Hennrick
Featured NBA Columnist
Last night two 2nd Round Playoff series ended. One was exactly the result most NBA fans expected and the other came as a quite a shock.
In the East, the Miami Heat took care of business finishing off the Chicago Bulls with a 94-91 win, securing the series in a tidy 5 games. That makes two straight series where they have had little trouble playing only one more game than the minimum to advance.
Going west we saw the Memphis Grizzlies steamroll through the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 4th time in 5 games, leaving the defending Western Conference Champions with more questions than answers after being banished from the playoffs much earlier than expected in Round 2.
Miami Heat defeat Chicago Bulls 4-1; advance to Eastern Conference Finals
Being a fan of good matchups and series that provide storylines and endless entertainment, I wishfully hoped with many other NBA fans across the nation that the Chicago Bulls had a shot at beating the Heat. Somewhere between Game 1 and Game 2 reality set in and I quickly came to the realization that the Heat would prevail. You cannot discredit the effort and heart shown by this season’s Chicago Bulls team. They fought until the very last minute of their last game and never threw in the towel.
Let’s be honest; the Bulls were without their best and 2nd best players, one of which has missed the entire season due to injury and the other just happened to be extremely ill for most of this series. Another issue with this team is the offense was being run through a player who in the offseason struggled to find a team that wanted him because of how erratic his play has been. A third major issue facing this team is they are known to rely heavily on defensive pressure to create offense, when that method fails, they are very one-dimensional and struggle to get good looks at the basket. Case-in-point was Games 2, 3 and 4 against the superior athletes on the Heat’s squad.
So, Miami advances to the Eastern Conference Finals without much effort exerted. They lost Game 1 mostly because the Bulls made a high percentage of their shots and defended at a very high level. The next 4 encounters saw the Heat use their athleticism and mismatches in their starting lineup to gain early leads and coast the rest of the way. They also received some outstanding play from Norris Cole, who for most of the regular season was a non-factor. His recent breakthrough could even further solidify their chances of a repeat championship run.
Ending this series as promptly as possible gives the Heat a tactical advantage entering the 3rd round of the playoffs. For one, Dwyane Wade will have an adequate amount of time to heal and receive treatment on his ailing knee. This is the most important aspect of closing the Chicago series out when they did. Secondly, they can sit back and analyze both of their potential opponents without having to worry about their own fate. A third advantage their easy advancement affords them is the confidence boost that comes along with already reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Obviously this team is not one that lacks confidence or swagger, but it can’t hurt to know that the last two seasons have not been outlier performances.
The New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers would each present unique complications for the Miami Heat in the next round.
If they face the Knicks, they can expect a barrage of 3-point attempts and a more undisciplined style of play. They will have to constantly have contact with their man on defense and crash the glass frequently to avoid letting Tyson Chandler dictate the rebounding situation for both teams.
If the Pacers close out the series and advance, the Heat will already have some knowledge on what to expect from them. These two teams faced off in last year’s playoffs and the Pacers came the closest, out of any team, to eliminating the Heat. They have size, strength, athleticism, discipline, and a deep bench. I would guess that the Heat would rather run with the Knicks than the Pacers.
Memphis Grizzlies defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1; advance to Western Conference Finals
The team that no one wanted to talk about all season has now taken the reins as the “favorite” to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
“Where did they come from?” you may ask or “Didn’t they trade their best player away earlier in the season to save money?” is another question you may be pondering.
Well, to answer the first question they have been here all along; the difference between them and a Miami, or a New York, or even an Oklahoma City is that they are not flashy, they do not play sexy basketball, and they go with what is now considered a traditional, old-school approach/lineup.
Memphis pairs two of the best big men in the game together in their frontcourt and rarely if ever runs a lineup out there without at least one of them in. Zach Randolph has awakened this year as one of the premier post players league-wide. He uses his size effectively and is always challenging loose balls coming off the rim.
The other half of the duo that terrorizes opposing frontcourts night in and night out is defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol. Do not assume that just because he was named DPOY that he is simply a stopper on that end of the court like Ben Wallace was in his prime. If you have spent any time at all watching the Grizzlies, you are already aware of the critical role he plays in their offense. He moves incredibly well without the ball, has the passing skills of a point guard, can face up and make a jump shot all the way out to the 3-point line, and assists on help-side defense like he has been doing it all his life.
It’s no wonder this team is heading to the Western Conference Finals.
Now add to the equation one of the best perimeter, and all around, defenders in the NBA, Tony Allen, and a seasoned point guard who looks very comfortable in his role throughout the playoffs, Mike Conley, and you have a very talented core.
The answer to the second question posed above is yes, they did trade away who many thought was their best player, Rudy Gay, but in actuality this may have been the move that allowed Memphis to get to where they are today. Gay is a high volume shooter with great size but below average shooting percentage and faulty defense.
He easily averages over 20 points a game but gets those points much like Carmelo Anthony does, on a ton of shot attempts and does little else to help his team on either end of the floor. Moving him opened up the offense and allowed Mike Conley to run everything through the post and then let it funnel back out to the perimeter. It truly is an ingenious design.
The Grizzlies now await the winner of the Spurs vs. Warriors series. The Spurs lead 3-2 but as we have seen numerous times this season the Warriors know how to score and win when something important is on the line.
If I had to wager who the Grizzlies would rather play, I would put all my money on Golden State. They are young, inexperienced, prone to injuries, and do have occasional off nights. On the contrary the Spurs employ a similar lineup to the Grizzlies going more traditionally with the two bigs, the athlete on the perimeter, and a highly skilled backcourt. They also have experience on their side and do not suffer as many injuries as one might think a team with their overall age would.
All Memphis can do is sit back and wait to see what happens. In my personal opinion, I do not think it matters who they face; they will advance to the Finals and pose a very serious threat to whoever emerges from the East.
Taylor Hennrick is the Featured NBA Columnist for World of Sports Talk. Stop by anytime for his NBA articles or follow him on Twitter for NBA insight and talk: @TeylorGang21.